Me Against The Music

I know I promised you days of poetry. However, I am currently lacking the balls to post today’s poem as I saw its subject recently and realized that said subject is, in fact, a real person with real feelings. As stepped on as my feelings may have been, that doesn’t excuse walking up and metaphorically sucker-punching said subject in the face. Basically, I can’t bring myself to post what I’ve written.


I keep meeting musicians. I guess that’s not unusual, since I live in Nashville and you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a musician, or at least a drummer (insert rim shot here). The guy working at Starbucks probably has a degree in Music Business. The girl building your website probably has a degree in Music Business. Ahem.

Naturally, when I meet these musicians, they sometimes ask if I play anything. Some of them forget to ask, but eventually see the rather hard-to-miss piano sitting in my house.

“Oh? You play?”
“Yes, but not as much as I used to. Just don’t get time.”

This, I’m realizing, is a half truth. It’s true that I don’t get time. It’s also true that, if I had time, I probably wouldn’t spend it at a piano. “So?” you ask.

“So” is me tossing aside years of lessons. “So” is me throwing away hours of practice. “So” is me looking at 19 year old Amy, the one who thought she would never, ever say this, and saying “this just isn’t our medium anymore.” 19 year old looks back in horror and calls 32 year old Amy a turncoat. A FUCKING turncoat. (19 year old Amy had some issues.)

It’s just that I found a more direct means of communication. I don’t speak in notes and poorly-worded lyrics anymore. You can play a song for someone all damned day and they can turn to you when it’s over and say, “that was pretty.” But did you get the point? The POINT was the point. Being “pretty” was not the fucking point.

Worse still, all those musicians I meet tend to demand that I play them something and then start talking to me halfway through my playing. They definitely don’t get the point; they’re just evaluating my technique and wondering why I almost always use the third. The POINT is the point, not my pedaling technique. Did you hear what I was telling you? It’s frustrating, like being trapped in a soundproof glass box. They can see you just fine, but have NO idea what you’re trying to tell them.

That’s why I post words. Why bury myself in metaphor and chord structure when I can just look you in the eye and say, “THIS the the point; HERE is what I’m telling you”?

Those musicians I keep meeting, when I explain that I don’t play much, don’t record much, and don’t play shows ever always just sort of look at me like they don’t understand. Like someone should come and repossess my piano, giving it to some unfortunate skinny-pantsed fellow who can’t afford his own. Like one needn’t bother playing if one isn’t looking for a record deal. That’s the tyranny of Nashville. Music isn’t allowed to be just fun…music is meant to “become something.”

I still play. Sometimes music is still the right medium for certain things. Sometimes, you need to get something out and need to bury it in metaphor. Sometimes, getting the feeling out is the point, rather than the point being the point.

The medium is determined by the message. See, I can spew pretentious bullshit like this all day because I also went to art school.

I’ve been trying to explain this to 19 year old Amy. I’ve been trying to explain this to musicians. I’m not sure either group really understands. As for 32 year old Amy, she still feels guilty for not practicing more.

(e)tv: Cue the Hate Mail: I Don’t Care

More half-assed recording techniques, this time violating a Fall Out Boy single. I’m still deeply unsure of this whole pianoing thing, but until I come to a verdict…

(Click here if you can’t see the embed.)

(e)tv: Crisis of Faith: No Myth

I had all these wonderful intentions of hooking up my computer so as to allow me to run a direct line (really TWO lines, left and right) from the piano while simultaneously recording vocals and then syncing up the audio to the video that would also be running while I recorded.

Software-wise, even without Final Cut, I knew how do to this. I just sort of forgot to consult my hardware. The M-Audio Mobile Pre (known in my house as The Magic Box) only has TWO channels. With the configuration described above, I would need at least three. “OK, fine,” I said. “I’ll forego the intended live performance style. I’ll do that tedious multi-track bullshit, complete with pop stoppers. Then I’ll lip sync the damn thing for video.”

Problem? I have no patience for tedious multitrack recording. I just don’t get off on that shit. I don’t get good work out of it, anyway. I get sterilized “I’m playing to a click track” stuff. I get vocals that are even worse than they are in real life (which I didn’t think possible). I get something that is not fun, takes forever, and loses the point of trying to do this as though you were standing in my bedroom with me.

It ends up looking like fake studio magic.
That’s fine for Britney. It’s kind of her thing.
It’s just not how I roll.
I have no patience.
I was a shitty sound engineer.

So, sacrificing sound quality, I did the thing that was more fun. Maybe I can borrow a better mic from somebody and see if that helps. My SM-57 just isn’t built for capturing a room, and I bought it before I had The Magic Box (which has phantom power), and blah blah blah, gear talk, blah blah. Let’s just all whip out our dicks and talk about tube amps.

I don’t know if there will be any more music coming out of this. It may be a waste of time (which is another reason why I did the faster process instead of the better-sounding one). At any rate, I already had this done and it didn’t take a lot of trouble to do it, so I figured I’d run it up the flag pole anyway.

Sorry if this is a total wank. But, hey…you get to laugh at me in my coke bottle glasses. That’s something, right? (For the young’uns in the audience: I so totally did not write that song. It’s a cover of Michael Penn’s “No Myth.” If you like the song, give him your iTunes monies.)

(Click here if you can’t see the embed.)